Planning for the new world of work
Organizations find themselves ill prepared to serve the millennial generation that will soon dominate the workforce, a recent survey reveals — with many slow to invest in approaches that will enable virtual workplaces, boost productivity and lure the best talent.
The nature of the workplace will change dramatically in coming years as digitally savvy millennials become the majority of the workforce and technologies such as digital assistants, augmented reality and AI become integral to work activity and the delivery of new levels of productivity. However, most organizations have a big challenge ahead if they are to be effective in this new work setting. Watch our video below and continue to read our survey analysis.
According to Workplace 2025: The CXO View, a recent survey of 1,300 CXOs by analyst firm Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC), almost half of businesses see the disappearance of the traditional concept of the fixed office as having the single biggest impact on their future workplace strategy.
The rise of freelance and mobile working models will see organizations across all sectors dramatically cut back their office footprint, says PAC. However, many organizations will need to overhaul their structures, processes and technologies to ensure teams have the ability to collaborate and access the tools, applications and data they require to be fully productive — regardless of location, time or employer relationship.
Dissolving physical boundaries
The research, commissioned by global ICT vendor Fujitsu, shows that only a quarter of those surveyed said their capabilities for remote and mobile working are currently equal of those provided in the office — with the lack of access to core business applications and data sources a major frustration for those working away from a formal office. Many organizations are hoping to fix that, however: 41% of participants said they plan to deliver a seamless, consistent and unified workplace experience as part of their future strategy.
Mobility and flexible working are also seen as key elements in enhancing productivity. “Compared to how organizations have enabled productivity over the last 20 or 30 years, individuals will be working in very different ways by 2025,” says Nick Mayes, senior consultant at PAC. The majority (79%) of survey respondents admitted their organization’s current practices are not flexible enough to get the best out of the workforce and attract the right talent.
In response, there will need to be an increased focus on the wellbeing of workers at many organizations, says Mayes. Seventy per cent of companies plan to change current corporate policies to drive improved work/life balance for employees, the survey suggests: “Offices will be constructed in a way that enhances health and wellness,” predicts Mayes, with some creating spaces for activities such as meditation and exercise.
At the same time, fast-growing participation of freelance workers in projects and the increased shared development between organizations will demand enhanced support for collaborative working. Around 45% of those surveyed said their organizations plan to adapt current policies in order to enable workers to create and share innovation across a wider ecosystem. Solution as problem
The survey also highlighted some major challenges. While technology is often seen as boosting productivity, many C-suite executives pointed to certain aspects as a major barrier to efficiency — especially security. Twenty-four per cent of the CXOs surveyed believe current workplace IT has a negative impact on their ability to adapt to the changing business landscape, and 63% find interoperability (or the lack of it) with outdated technology a major drain on productivity.
Perhaps of most concern was the fact that cybersecurity was named by more than half of respondents as having a negative impact on their individual productivity. Systems designed to protect are hindering job performance or — potentially worse — employees are circumnavigating these systems to do their jobs efficiently and are actually compounding the risk.
Security issues are also preventing businesses from taking full advantage of the latest collaboration tools designed to drive productivity. Of the businesses yet to deploy such tools, 46% named security concerns as the main inhibitor. Looking towards a solution, around a third of respondents are planning investments in the near future in contextual or behavioural analysis tools that might make day-to-day workplace security less intrusive.
Such moves show a growing commitment to preparing for the workplace of the future, says Mayes. “A lot of organizations, in most of the major sectors we looked at, are starting on this journey now and are putting basic but important building blocks in place. The challenge they face over the next couple of years is bringing this kind of innovation — much of which is happening around the periphery of the organization today — into the core of the business and really embedded it in the culture of all departments.”
• Nick Mayes was a speaker at Fujitsu Forum 2017 in Munich. Download the PAC/Fujitsu report Workplace 2025.